Tired of her life in London, freelance illustrator Rachel buys the beautiful but dilapidated Clematis Cottage and sets about creating the home of her dreams. But tucked away behind the water tank in the attic and left to gather dust for decades, is an old biscuit tin containing letters, postcards and a diary. So much more than old scraps of paper, these are precious memories that tell the story of Henrietta Trenchard-Lewis, a love lost in the Great War and the girl who was left behind.
I used to live in London, where I worked in the theatre. Then I got the bizarre job of teaching road safety to the U.S. navy – in Marble Arch!
A few years ago, I did an ‘Escape to the Country’. I now live in a tiny Herefordshire village, where I scandalise the neighbours by not keeping ‘country hours’ and being unable to make a decent pot of plum jam. Home is a converted Oast house (Old agricultural building used for drying hops), which I share with my two beloved spaniels, husband (also beloved) and a ghost called Zoe.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel widely, though prefer to set my novels closer to home. Perhaps more research is needed? I’ve always wanted to base a book in the Caribbean!
I am addicted to Belgian chocolate, Jane Austen and, most of all, Strictly Come Dancing.
The Edge of Sanity – How far would YOU go to protect your family?
A decent, ordinary man, a man who has already suffered the loss of one child, Daniel Conner is forced by extraordinary circumstances into being a hero. Tortured, forcibly drugged—heroin still pulsating nauseatingly through his veins—his wife and daughter degraded, Daniel knows their kidnapper is beyond reasoning with. But does being pushed one step beyond endurance justify doing the unthinkable?
High on drugs, indebted to his supplier, and desperate, Charlie Roberts takes Daniel’s wife and daughter hostage. Daniel does everything within his power to rescue the situation bloodlessly. Eventually though, Daniel realises that with or without violent mood swings induced by amphetamines and cocaine, Charlie Roberts is a psychopath. He wants more than Daniel’s money.
He wants him.
The Edge of Sanity: a harrowing story of hope amid loss and betrayal.
Shortlisted for the Crime, Thrillers & Mystery SpaSpa Book Award for books published in 2014.
Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for the Best Romantic e-book Love Stories Award 2015, Sheryl has seven books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies
Sheryl’s new contemporary romance novel was recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer. THE REST OF MY LIFE comes to you from award winning Choc Lit.
Katie has had her fair share of bad luck, but when she finally realises her dream of opening a bakery it seems things can only get better.
But the reality of running a business hits Katie hard and whilst her partner, Steve, tries to help she begins to sense that the situation is driving them further apart. Could Katie be set to lose her relationship and her dream job?
Then, one winter’s day, a man walks into her shop – and, in the space of that moment, the course of Katie’s life is changed.
But nobody finds happiness in the blink of an eye. Sometimes it takes two Christmases, three birthdays and a whole lot of cake to get there …
Previously released as Sweet Occasions by the author. Revised and edited by Choc Lit December 2015.
Grandma Grace peers at me with interest over the top of her glasses, taking the box from my hands and placing it on the side. She wraps her arms around as much of me as she can reach, being at least a foot shorter, and gives me a fierce hug.
‘Thank you, my dear, but the only present I wanted was to see you standing here in one piece. It’s such a long journey and the weather! That rain is relentless, so many places are flooded. To think of you at the side of the road worried me to death and I will admit to saying a few little prayers as one hour turned into two, then three …’
She raises her eyebrow sternly, but it’s a brief moment before those twinkly blue eyes are full of love and laughter again.
‘My boy is here and that’s all that counts.’
‘Grandma, I haven’t been a boy for many years,’ I retort, softly, as she releases me with a tender pat on my back. She might be in her twilight years but her spirit is strong and her mind as sharp as ever. We all thought she’d fade away when Pop died, but the truth is he’s the one who would have faded if she had gone first.
‘You will always be a boy to me. Now, tell me more about this guardian angel of yours.’
While the tea is brewing and the cake is sliced, I hang around the kitchen as I did when I was growing up. Grandma Grace was always easy to talk to; she seemed to understand even when the words wouldn’t come. Her instincts filled in the gaps at times when even I couldn’t make sense of what was going on inside my head. After this failed relationship I began to despair of ever finding someone special.
‘You can’t hurry love,’ she’d told me. ‘It takes time to find your soulmate and in the process you change and grow. That’s why young love often withers, as Pop would have said. Two people either change and grow together, or they grow apart. Love is about sustaining what comes after that first hormonal rush.’
‘But that wasn’t the case for the two of you,’ I remember pointing out.
‘There has to be an exception to every rule,’ she’d replied, with a wicked smile. ‘We were lucky. Fate was kind to us. But with hindsight, we were too young and naive to understand that until much later in life. Don’t fret, Adam, there’s a wonderful young woman out there for you when the time is right.’
Sadly, when I reached that point it too turned out to be yet another huge failure. This time the consequences had been more painful than I could ever have imagined. Kelly was everything I thought I wanted in a woman and, after adjusting to the shock of an unplanned pregnancy, she was a fantastic mother. With hindsight I can see now that parenthood came too early in our relationship, we hardly knew each other. Suddenly I was a family man and yet, surprisingly, the role seemed to come naturally to me. I loved Sunday mornings the best. When a little head would appear on the pillow next to me at some unearthly hour and a warm little hand would wind its way around my neck.
“I’m a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, and writing. Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache…”
An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Linn’s novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award. Linn writes chick lit, women’s contemporary fiction and psychic romance for Choc Lit, Harper Impulse and Endeavour Press.
Once again, it’s time for a Burns Supper celebration. This year my special guest is all the way from Edinburgh, author, Janice Cairns.
Welcome to Celtic Connexions, Janice! Do sit down and make yourself comfortable.
Let’s start by getting to know you better. Can you tell us about yourself?
Born in Ayrshire and educated at Ayr academy, I’ve had an assortment of jobs – child care, law, insurance, media and creative writing. I live in Edinburgh now; the city has been my home for the last thirty years. It is here, my dream of becoming a published author, has come true.
My life could be described as a happy mix of marketing for my first book, and writing her sequel. I find time in my busy schedule to enjoy walks at the Botanic gardens, or by the sea, or in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I’ve always considered my walks as importantr, as I think these activate my creative thoughts and actually inspire me to write.
I didn’t realize you’re an Ayrshire girl – born and raised in Burns Country. Have you been to Canada?
No, I haven’t, but it is a country I would love to visit.
Can I get you a drink? I have a small selection of whiskies if you’d like a dram before we eat. Or we can always have something else.
Well, while we wait for our meal to be ready, Janice, let’s chat about your writing. Forgiving Nancy was your debut novel, if I’m not mistaken. Can you tell us what it is about?
Yes, indeed, Forgiving Nancy is my debut novel. It is love story, which is set in Edinburgh, in the 1980s. The story opens with Nancy Campbell, down in her luck. She meets a wealthy bachelor, Maxwell Elliot, and soon becomes married to him. It is an unlikely marriage, which crosses the barriers, of age, culture, and class. Within a short time, the marriage is crumbling, and Nancy, who is young and beautiful, is enticed away from her slightly eccentric, millionaire husband. She becomes involved with Callum Macduff, who is obsessed, with running his circus, and who is only interested in sex. This affair does not last either as Maxwell finds out. The story then turns into a journey, both poignant and heartbreaking, for Nancy. After a lot of soul-searching, she finds herself in a homeless shelter, but then she finds her way back to Maxwell, who eventually forgives, the mistakes she has made. Through the main plot is also weaved the story of Stella Golding’s unreciprocated love. At one time Stella, had been Maxwell’s housekeeper, and had hoped to marry him. Nevertheless, it all turns out okay, for Stella too. This fashion conscious lady, of a certain, age goes on to find true love, unexpectedly, after experiencing heartache over Maxwell.
The novel’s backdrop, is the beautiful city of Edinburgh, and in many of the chapters, real streets are referred to, so a reader can get a real feel, for what the city is all about, even if they have not been there before.
My chef, Donald, announces the meal is ready.
We’ll start with The Selkirk Grace.
Some hae meat and canna eat, And some would eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit.
My cock-a-leekie soup isn’t made in the traditional way. I’m not a fan of prunes so I leave them out.
The skirl of the pipes announces the presentation of the haggis. I’m pleased to say that we have Harry MacFayden addressing the chieftain o’ the puddin’ race this evening.
I hope you’re enjoying your virtual “Canadian” Robbie Burns night, Janice.
I understand you’ve completed the sequel to Forgiving Nancy. Can you tell us anything about it?
I am so excited about the sequel, and first I’d like to say, the atmosphere and the mood of All the way from America, is so different from Forgiving Nancy, yet, I am still writing about so many of the original characters. In the sequel, Maxwell Elliot, has reinvented himself, and is launching into a new creative life. He sets out to become an artist, but it is not plain sailing for him. Maxwell’s past creeps in, and causes havoc for him, as he begins to receive, letters from a former love, in America. Also, he gets entangled in an afternoon of erotic pleasure with a friend’s daughter. The afternoon becomes his guilty secret, as he returns to the straight and narrow path of his creative goals. In the sequel, Nancy Elliot inhabits a different world too. She takes up the opportunity of becoming a model in a fashion show. However, what should have been a wonderful and fun evening, for Nancy, is also thwarted by shadows of the past. The main characters of Nancy and Maxwell, are putting their best foot forward, but destiny is determined to spoil their plans. Yet, in the end, everything turns out fine for the Elliot’s, as it does for Stella, who decides the best thing for her, is to return to London, after her marriage to Vincent did not turn out, as hoped. The only similarity the sequel has to Forgiving Nancy is that Callum Macduff, is in the same place as he was before, he does not seem to grow with further experiences of love.
What made you choose the titles for your two novels?
As far as Forgiving Nancy is concerned, way back, I had thought of calling it An Edinburgh Love Story, but as time went on, I began to think, this was too general a title, and not specific enough. So, I then thought West End Intrigue, would be a good title, as much of the setting was at the West End of Edinburgh, and because there was a lot of intrigue, in the book. But, then, I thought more deeply about it, and it occurred to me, one of main themes in the book, ‘forgiveness’, could be used in the title. Since Nancy was the main female character in the book, I then felt absolutely certain, I should call the book Forgiving Nancy.
At the moment, the working title, for the sequel is All the way from America. The reason I have chosen this is because it describes one of the most poignant moments, of the sequel; that moment, when Favia comes all the way from America, with high hopes of rekindling love with Maxwell, only to find Maxwell has no romantic interest in her. After all those years, coming all the way on the plane, only to be disappointed.
I’ve been to Edinburgh a few times. I love the photographs you share of the city on Facebook. Do you have a favourite place you like to go to?
Yes, Melanie, I love to go up to Edinburgh Castle, I love spending time there. Often, I will take myself there and spend a few hours exploring. There are always lots of visitors up there too, no matter the time of year, and I love mingling with the visitors. It’s also a great place to take photos of Edinburgh. Wonderful views of the city, can be seen from the castle. I love to saunter all the way down The Royal Mile too, after being at the castle. I love all the wonderful closes of The Royal Mile, I love to take photos of the closes, which have so much history, attached to them. I am so fascinated by The Royal Mile and the closes, actually, that these aspects of the city are mentioned in the sequel. I know your question asks me to mention one favourite place, Melanie, but loving Edinburgh, as I do, I have to say, there are a great many favourite places that are so very special to me – the Grassmarket, for example and the lovely Victoria Street, then places like Cockburn Street. I love nothing nicer than having lunch in Cockburn street on a summer’s day. Then, of course, there is being by Duddingston loch in the summer, and having a picnic there. I love watching the swans on the river there.
Do you have any more writing projects in the works? Another WIP perhaps?
Yes, I am delighted to say, I have more writing projects up my sleeve, rather than in the works. I am beginning to formulate ideas, for the writing of a third book, but this book will be worlds away, from the first two, with completely different characters, and themes. A new stage is being set, as it were. So far, I have been filling notebooks, with ideas for a third book. As yet, I have not considered the plot, and who the characters will be, in it. All I can say, so far, is this is a book I must write.
We have trifle for dessert. I hope you like it.
When we’re finished eating, we’ll take our coffee and some shortbread into the lounge and listen to some Scottish music and talk a bit more.
Following Edward Rochester’s death in All Hallows at Eyre Hall, Jane Eyre, who has been blackmailed into marrying a man she despises, will have to cope with the return of the man she loved and lost. The secrets she has tried so hard to conceal must be disclosed, giving rise to unexpected events and more shocking revelations.
Romance, mystery, and excitement will unfold exploring the evolution of the original characters, and bringing to life new and intriguing ones, spinning a unique and absorbing narrative, which will move the action from the Yorkshire countryside, to Victorian London, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Colonial Jamaica.
Michael had his back to the fireplace as we entered. He turned to look at Jane, and smiled, as he always did when he saw her, as if nothing had happened, as if he had just seen her yesterday. He moved towards us and she retreated, whispering his name once again.
“Diana, could we have some water. It’s been a terrible journey, and Jane is so very exhausted,” I said as I held her arm, sure she was about to collapse.
Michael rushed to the sideboard, poured some water from the decanter, and offered it to her. She stared at him, still motionless, so I took the glass and pressed the rim to her stunned lips.
Michael was standing too close to her. He was as handsome and striking as ever; more so in his navy uniform. He looked older and larger. His arms had grown sturdier; his face was tanned and rugged. He looked like a man who enjoyed giving orders instead of accepting them. He was as bolder and stronger as Jane was weaker and quieter. I never knew why he left, and now I had no idea why he had returned, although I supposed that his departure had been the cause of her melancholy mood.
My uncle had told me they were lovers. Unnatural, he called it, but I had seen love in the way their eyes chased each other’s movements at Eyre Hall. Did she tire of him and throw him out? Did he leave her? Why did she marry my uncle? I could understand my uncle’s reasons, but what did Jane gain from their union?
Jane was trembling, so I stood between them with my back to Michael, obstructing her vision, to give her some time to adjust to the surprise of seeing him.
“Drink some water, Jane, please,” I said as I pushed the glass to her lips.
“Are you well, Jane?” asked Diana.
“Yes, she’s all right,” I replied. “Just tired.”
“Well, you already know Michael, now Lieutenant Kirkpatrick. He has come with Captain Carrington and his wife. Captain Carrington is Michael’s sea captain. He was Charles’s last captain, too, on his final mission as Admiral of the Fleet. We are surrounded by valiant men today, are we not ladies?” Diana clapped her hands.
“They’re staying over Christmas. Would it not be wonderful if we could all spend Christmas together at Eyre Hall? I would love to have you come here, but of course, Thorpe House is not big enough. What with Adele, Mr. Greenwood and his son, as well as dear John, and naturally Mr. Mason, there is just no room here, dear sister. What do you say?”
I stepped forward and offered my hand to the captain who brushed his lips over my gloved knuckles as he gave me a lecherous smile, which instantly displeased me. His wife surprised me with a friendly hug. I finally offered Michael my hand. He bowed, but his lips did not touch my glove.
After greeting the captain and his wife, Jane turned to Michael. He held her hand longer than was necessary and pressed it against his lips with a smile. “I’m very pleased to see you again, Mrs. Mason.”
She stared back in silence, so I spoke. “Lieutenant, although we are pleased to see you, you must understand what a surprise it is. You left Eyre Hall suddenly, and we have had no information about your whereabouts in over a year. It was not a courteous way to leave your employer.”
“You are correct, Miss Mason. I do apologise to Mrs. Mason for not giving her enough notice of my leave, but my decision was sudden. My sister, Susan, was leaving Eyre Hall, and I too needed a change of employment. I came to see Admiral Fitzjames, because he had helped my father, too.” He turned to Jane. “I hope you can forgive me, Mrs. Mason.”
About Luccia Gray
Luccia Gray was born in London and now lives in the south of Spain with her husband. She has three children and three grandchildren. When she’s not reading or writing, she teaches English at an Adult Education Centre and at the Spanish National University.
Everything’s naughtier after dark… Fall in love with the Wild & Bad boys. Long enough to burn up the sheets and short enough to leave you craving more.
If raw emotions, cursing, dirty-talk, or intense, passionate sex that sometimes includes a silk tie, turn you off, then the After Dark books are not for you. *NO CLIFFHANGERS*
WILD BOYS AFTER DARK, Book 2
Everything’s naughtier after dark…
No last names. No strings. No ties.
Except of the silk variety.
Dr. Heath Wild and Allyson Jenner only wanted a simple tryst. But Heath couldn’t live with just one night, just one taste, of Ally–and Ally couldn’t escape the memory of his hands on her skin, the way he looked at her like she was his obsession, or his seduction, which had pushed her to the edge and had made her want to do things she never had before.
One night leads to one tantalizing phone call. Can one phone call lead to forever?
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.
Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.
I thought listening to my Ontario morning on CBC radio by live streaming via the Internet would be the easy thing to do. For a while it worked wonders… then the problems started happening there, too. But not the radio changing channels on its own… this time it was a bug with Windows Media Player. A simple fix… uninstall and reinstall the newest version and all is well. I’m happily listening to the radio on the Internet every morning until I have to leave for work.
He’s ba-ack!!! Sounds like something out of Poltergeist, doesn’t it? It all started again this past Monday morning. The radio automatically changing frequencies from its usual and customary 107.5 (my CBC channel) to 87.5 (nothing but static). It does it three or four times between 6:00 and when I leave the house about 7:30. Hmm…
Again, I will outsmart the wee blighter. It just might take me some time.
I’ve never tried adding a photo to a post before so thought I would give it a try. I chose this picture because it’s my grandfather, presumably on his wedding day in 1876 to his first wife.
The first time I saw this photo was on a trip to Scotland. One of my cousins had it and gave it to me. I thought I was seeing my father staring back at me when I first looked into the face of the man pictured. It was like seeing a ghost!
This portrait plays a huge role in my first novel, Sarah’s Gift. It’s a large oil painting of the Laird and Lady of Weetshill–John and Elizabeth Robertson.
Now my character, Sarah, looks exactly like this young woman. Robert Robertson (grandson of the Laird) and David Robb (Sarah’s nurse) both look like the handsome young man.
Not to spoil things for those who haven’t read my first novel, I’ll not say anymore. For those who have read it, or a portion of it, or have seen my people and places in Sarah’s Gift pictures, you know what I’m talking about.
Celtic Connexions – My Scottish roots and writing by Melanie Robertson-King